Kunchan Nambiar, the drummer, was playing Mizhavu for Chakyar koothu. It is a solo dance with the artist himself singing the verses to the accompaniment of Mridangam and timing with a refrain repeater singing in the background. Usually, the performance lasts a couple of hours. One day, against all precedence, he happened to doze off by sheer inactivity caused by a prolonged talk by the Chakyar after a recital of the poem that needed the rhythmic support.
When the Chakyar abruptly started reciting another lyric, having had no rhythmic response from the drummer looked back and found Kunchan Nambiar dozing. He not only woke him up but also ripped him down by humiliatingly sarcastic comments and jokes on his person. Nambiar hanged his head in shame and silently walked off.
Instead of crying over the incident in self-contempt, he sat through the whole night, with a vengeance, and wrote a poem depicting an episode from Mahabharatha in a never-to-fore metric and rhythmic pattern. He also devised a special kind of dance for its exposition. The legend is that he presented it the very next evening at the same temple where he was humiliated on a different platform at the same time the Chakyar had begun. By the novelty, wittiness, and acridity of the programme, he attracted all the audiences that had surrounded Chakyar to his show. It was the birth of a new art form that he named as "Ottanthullal".
Impressive costume down the waistline and colourful crown are copied from Kathakali, with slight variations. Ornaments are made up mainly of tender leaves of coconut and glass beads.